Harlem Renaissance

Harlem Renaissance, term used to describe a flowering of African-American literature and art in the 1920s, mainly in the Harlem district of New York City. During the mass migration of African Americans from the rural agricultural South to the urban industrial North (1914–18), many who came to New York settled in Harlem, as did a good number of black New Yorkers moved from other areas of the city. Meanwhile, Southern black musicians brought jazz with them to the North and to Harlem. The area soon became a sophisticated literary and artistic center. A number of periodicals were influential in creating this milieu, particularly the magazines Crisis, which was published by W. E. B. Du Bois and urged racial pride among African Americans, and Opportunity, published by the National Urban League. Also influential was the book The New Negro: An Interpretation (1925), edited by Alain Locke.

Responding to the heady intellectual atmosphere of the time and place, writers and artists, many of whom lived in Harlem, began to produce a wide variety of fine and highly original works dealing with African-American life. These works attracted many black readers. New to the wider culture, they also attracted commercial publishers and a large white readership. Writers associated with the Harlem Renaissance include Arna Bontemps, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, James Weldon Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jean Toomer. Visual artists connected with the movement are less generally known. Among the painters are Aaron Douglas, Palmer Hayden, Malvin G. Johnson, and William H. Johnson. The best-known sculptor is probably Augusta Savage. Photographers include James Van Der Zee and Roy De Carava. The Harlem Renaissance faded with the onset of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

See D. L. Lewis, ed., The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader (1994) and as author, When Harlem Was In Vogue (1981, repr. 1997); N. I. Huggins, Harlem Renaissance (1971); B. Kellner, ed., The Harlem Renaissance: A Historical Dictionary for the Era (1987); M. S. Campbell, ed., Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America (1987, repr. 1994); L. Harris, ed., The Philosophy of Alain Locke: Harlem Renaissance and Beyond (1989); H. Bloom, ed., Black American Prose Writers of the Harlem Renaissance (1994); J. O. G. Ogbar, The Harlem Renaissance Revisited: Politics, Arts, and Letters (2010). In addition, many materials relating to the period can be found in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York City.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

New Voices on the Harlem Renaissance: Essays on Race, Gender, and Literary Discourse
Australia Tarver; Barnes C. Paula.
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2006
The Harlem Renaissance: The One and the Many
Mark Helbling.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Harlem Renaissance Re-Examined
Victor A. Kramer; Robert A. Russ.
Whitston, 1997 (Revised edition)
Black Culture and the Harlem Renaissance
Cary D. Wintz.
Rice University Press, 1988
The Harlem Renaissance as Postcolonial Phenomenon
Philipson, Robert.
African American Review, Vol. 40, No. 1, Spring 2006
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Portraits of the New Negro Woman: Visual and Literary Culture in the Harlem Renaissance
Cherene Sherrard-Johnson.
Rutgers University Press, 2007
The Harlem Renaissance in the Twenties Produced a Wealth of Black Talent. but What Was Its Legacy and Who Did It Really Benefit?
Stuart, Andrea.
New Statesman (1996), Vol. 126, No. 4340, June 27, 1997
Rereading the Harlem Renaissance: Race, Class, and Gender in the Fiction of Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston, and Dorothy West
Sharon L. Jones.
Greenwood Press, 2002
To Make a New Race: Gurdjieff, Toomer, and the Harlem Renaissance
Jon Woodson.
University Press of Mississippi, 1999
Pages from the Harlem Renaissance: A Chronicle of Performance
Anthony D. Hill.
Peter Lang, 1996
Black American Poets and Dramatists of the Harlem Renaissance
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 1995
New Thoughts on the Black Arts Movement
Lisa Gail Collins; Margo Natalie Crawford.
Rutgers University Press, 2006
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "A Familiar Strangeness: The Spectre of Whiteness in the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement"
Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity
Ron Eyerman.
Cambridge University Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "The Harlem Renaissance and the Heritage of Slavery"
The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition
Bernard W. Bell.
University of Massachusetts Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "The Harlem Renaissance and the Search for New Modes of Narrative"
Racechanges: White Skin, Black Face in American Culture
Susan Gubar.
Oxford University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Making White, Becoming Black: Myths of Racial Origin in the Harlem Renaissance"
Major Black American Writers through the Harlem Renaissance
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 1995
The Novels of the Harlem Renaissance: Twelve Black Writers, 1923-1933
Amritjit Singh.
Pennsylvania State University Press, 1976
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